Welcome to this week's edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of the news from the grassroots, news overlooked by the corporate media.
On today's show...
* We'll hear about the denial of financial aid to students that have drug convictions
* a detailed account of the situation in Darfur and the Sudan
* a report from today's immigrants rights protests
* and also a special May Day feature.
Rustbelt Radio airs live every Monday from 6-7pm on WRCT 88.3FM in Pittsburgh, PA, every Thursday from 11am to noon on WARC-Meadville from the campus of Allegheny College, and every Saturday from 5-6pm on WVJW Benwood, 94.1 FM in the Wheeling, West Virginia area. And we're now on WPTS 92.1FM from the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, also Saturdays at 5pm.
We're also available on the internet, both on WRCT's live webstream at W-R-C-T dot ORG and for download, stream or podcast at radio dot I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot org.
[3:45] SEIU-change to win take on walmart
On Wednesday, the Service Employees International Union and the Change to Win Coalition held a kick-off rally and petition drive to introduce their Make Work Pay campaign. Similar rallies were held in 40 cities across the country. Gabe Morgan, Pittsburgh City Director for SEUI local 3, describes the Make Work Pay campaign.
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The Change To Win Coalition includes SEUI, the Teamsters, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, UNITE HERE, LaborerÂs International Union, and the United Farm Workers.
About fifty people attended the rally, mostly local union members and representatives of community groups, including ACORN, the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, the Just Health Care Campaign, and the Thomas Merton Center.
The union leaders announced that the first goal of their campaign is to improve healthcare access for Walmart employees. Over half of Walmart's employees have no health coverage, and are forced to rely on taxpayer funded public programs such as medicaid and CHIP. Tom Hoffman, communications director with SEUI local 3:
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After announcing the campaign, many of those in attendance fanned out in groups to gather signatures for a petition asking Pennsylvania lawmakers to support legislation which would require large employers to contribute to healthcare. Vince Lawrence, public affairs director for UFCW local 23 in Canonsburg, PA:
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[1:00] Censhorship at Cleveland Mall
* storm: to be played under a story
In the background storm troopers by Mifune a band who had the plug them pulled on them during their set at the Tri-C Jazz Fest which took place on April 29th Tower City, a mall in downtown Cleveland. The sound was cut off about twenty minutes into their set because mall management did not like the anti-President Bush T-shirts that band members were wearing. Band Leader Jacob Fader said that management had asked them to either remove the shirts, turn them inside out, or get off the stage.
Tower CityÂs general manger Lisa Kreiger said such action was taken because (quote) We felt the band's attire was distracting and inappropriate. (endquote) Tri-C JazzFest Managing Director Beth Rutkowski endorsed Tower CityÂs actions.
Both band members and members of the audience objected to the censorship and infringements upon free speech. Fader said that this kind of situation is indicative of the climate of the country and the reason that the band peforms while wearing anti-Bush T shirts.
[3:30] Global Night Commute
500 Pittsburghers slept in Market Square on Saturday Night April 29th as part of a "global night commute" to raise awareness about child soldiers in Northern Uganda. Lisa Dougan, a student at Grove City college and organizer of the event describes the situation.
* invisible.ogg: 3:10
That was Lisa Dougan from Global Night Commute. For more information you can go to invisiblechildren.com
[2:00] 11 illegal immigrants detained in westmoreland county
Last week in Westmoreland County, 11 hispanic illegal immigrants were detained after a state trooper pulled over the minivan in which they were travelling eastward on interstate 70.
The Westmoreland County Sheriff's Department helped state police transport the men to the state police Greensburg barracks. Agents from the federal Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office in Pittsburgh took custody of all 11 men.
According to a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report, federal court documents indicate the frequency of such incidents is increasing. State police are stopping more out-of-state vehicles on interstate highways in Pennsylvania that are transporting illegal immigrants to the eastern part of the country. Affidavits submitted by immigration and customs agents in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh in connection with immigration cases revealed that troopers intercepted suspected illegal immigrants in Westmoreland, Allegheny, Washington, Clarion and Mercer counties in recent months.
State police spokesman Jack Lewis said (quote) It certainly has been going on for years, but it does seem to be increasing, even the numbers of people in the vehicles. In recent years, immigration officials have been good about coming up and picking up people. In previous years, I think they were light on staffing (endquote).
The Westmoreland County arrests may be part of a larger nationwide pattern. Rustbelt Radio spoke with Marisa Manhiem of Pittsburgh Friends of Immigrants:
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Immigration events today in Pittsburgh
Today, across the country, immigrants rights groups have called for people to protest anti-immigration legislation and speak out for immigrants' rights through a general boycott and strike. Nativa Lopez of the Mexican American Political Association explains
* Native Lopez
Independent Media Centers across the US are reporting that most major U.S. cities have seen very large marches, often the largest marches these cities have ever seen. Marches with over 10,000 participants are reported in Oakland, Portland, Miami, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Denver. In San Franciso and Los Angeles the marches have both drawn over fifty thousand participants.
Here in Pittsburgh, there was an afternoon vigil outside the Allegheny Jail where approximately 100 demonstrators gathered, wearing white shirts and painted their faces white in solidarity with immigrants.
For more on local news, you can visit pittsburgh dot I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot org.
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You are listening to Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news overlooked by the corporate media. We turn now to news from other independent media sources around the world.
[1:15] The Death and Life of Jane Jacobs
Jane Jacobs, a community activist and urban planner, died in Toronto at the age of 89. Jacobs is best known as the author of "The Death and Life of Great American Cities", a 1961 book which transformed ideas about cities and urban planning. She had no formal training in urban planning, yet went on to greatly influence the field.
Jacobs was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived in New York City for many years, where she was active in the fight against Robert Moses' plan to build an expressway through Washington Square Park. She moved to Canada in 1968 in opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War.
Jacobs opposed many of the core tenets of urban planning in the 1960's. The field itself, as well as common notions of how cities should function, were transformed by her work. She opposed the traditional 1960's beliefs on slum renewal, and highlighted the importance of mixed-use areas built to human scale. She was a strong advocate for distinct neighborhoods connected by public transit.
In 2000, Jacobs offered telephone support to Pittsburgh citizens concerned about then-Mayor Tom Murphy's plans to destroy locally-owned businesses downtown in order to develop a major retail complex on Fifth and Forbes. Much of her later work focuses on economics, including the role of urban areas and the distinction between expansion and development.
[2:00] White House Correspondents Dinner
The annual White House Correspondents dinner provides a venue where politicians and reporters can get together in an environment less formal than a press conference and less elite than the Gridiron Club Banquet. Last week, the event was attended by reporters, politicians, and celebrities, ranging from George Bush to Ben Roethlisberger. At this yearÂs White House Correspondents Dinner, keynote speaker Stephen Colbert used the opportunity to lampoon both the Administration and the Press.
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The newspaper industry trade journal Editor and Publisher reports that President Bush, who had to sit through ColbertÂs 15 minute speech, quickly turned from an amused guest to an obviously offended target as ColbertÂs comments brought up his low approval ratings and problems in Iraq. He left the banquet as soon as ColbertÂs address ended.
[1:10] Telecom-Reform Bill
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted down the Net Neutrality amendment to the proposed Telecom-Reform bill. This provision would have allowed the Federal Communication Commission to stop telecommunications companies from prioritizing some web traffic over others. As this bill stands, it will allow telephone and cable companies to provide faster downloads to companies who pay them or whose content they prefer.
The full House will next vote on the Telecom-Reform bill. The bill's full name is the ÂCommunications Opportunity, Promotions and Enhancements Act of 2006Â and it will update the 1996 Telecommunications Act. This bill will allow telecommunications companies to control how well websites function, and thus have the ability to limit consumer access to certain content.
Major telecommunications companies like Verizon, AT&T, and Comcast are behind this legislation. A diversity of groups, including the Gun Owners of America, MoveOn.org, the American Library Association, and multinational software companies like Microsoft, oppose it.
Last year, Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, blocked their customers from the web site of a group supporting workers in a labor dispute with Telus. Companies could allow similar bans in the US if this bill passes.
[:40] Right Wing Attitudes in France
A new article by Z MagazineÂs Doug Ireland reports on a recent poll in France, which lists: 34% of French people agree that the extreme right is (quote) close to their preoccupations. (endquote) 35% state that they believe that the extreme right wing (quote) enriches political debate. (endquote) 67% of those who identify with the extreme right say that they affiliate with the neo-Fascist Front Nationale. 43% of those polled who identify as right wing cite immigration as their top concern.
FranceÂs Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy is known for his flamboyantly xenophobic attitudes, recently referring to rioting French youth of color with such titles as Âscum.Â
[1:00] Hasan Shakur update
On March 27th Rustbelt Radio featured an interview with Debbie Frazier about the case of Hasan Shakur, a man on death row in the State of Texas. Shakur has been on Death Row for 10 years for a murder his supporters claim he did not commit, and was scheduled to be executed on April 27, 2006. While incarcerated, Shakur has become involved with the Human Rights Coalition, an organization composed of prisoners, their families, ex-prisoners, community activists, and sympathetic individuals working to (quote) implement alternatives to the existing bankrupt policies of both the Criminal Justice System and Prison Industrial Complex. (endquote) Activists across the country have been demanding a new trial for Hasan Shakur, and on April 24th The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted his execution to allow time to consider a new appeal. Shakur would have been the eighth prisoner in Texas executed this year. For more information about his case you can go to www.hasanshakur.com
[1:00] Shell's Pipeline Projects Kill Birds and Sea Creatures
Shell Corporation and its Sakhalin Energy Project recently cancelled plans to lay undersea pipelines that would cut through the Siberian waters where Western Pacific Gray Whales, the most endangered whales in the world, feed and live. There are 100 of these whales remaining in the world, with about 23 females capable of calving. ShellÂs proposed project is estimated to have cost around 20 billion dollars.
While these plans were cancelled, Shell hasnÂt mentioned its off-shore projects, which would border whale habitats, and its on-shore projects which endanger streams of wild salmon, among other species. ShellÂs decision to cancel its newest pipeline project follows a discovery of a Shell pipeline leak in a wetland near San Francisco Bay on Saturday.
Opponents of ShellÂs underwater pipelines point out that the noise from pipeline work is so high- up to 130 decibels- that it can cause whales to get disoriented and change their directions of travel. Last month, over 5,000 birds including guillemots (GIL-eh-mots) and crested auklets (AWK-lets) were discovered coated in oil and dead on the Shiretoko peninsula of Japan, due to Shell's oil work.
[1:50] April 29th March in NYC
On Saturday, April 29th, New York City was the setting for the largest anti-war demonstration of the year. Organizers estimate that 350,000 people turned out for the March for Peace, Justice and Democracy held by United for Peace and Justice, National Organization of Women, US Labor Against the War, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and other groups.
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The lively march traversed 30 blocks down Broadway amidst cheers of support from nearly everyone. Sunny, 70-degree weather plus mounting concern over a possible military strike against Iran conspired to draw out large numbers, far more than the organizers had anticipated.
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In addition to a sizable number of "no war on Iran" signs and contingents, another set of issues that were highly visible in the march were torture, indefinite detentions and the oppression of immigrants. One of the most colorful blocs was Witness Against Torture's anti-torture contingent, in which members dragged a cage that held a bound and hooded human occupant, while dozens more dressed in orange jumpsuits and hoods holding signs that read Shut Down Guantanamo. Also noteworthy was the large number of Iraq Vets marching this time.
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There was no rally on Saturday; instead the march terminated at Foley Square for a peace and justice festival involving 19 tents focusing on a range of issues and grassroots action-oriented efforts. These included Immigrant Rights, Direct Action, Counter-Recruitment, Palestine, Global Warming and more.
You can read more independent global news stories by visting indymedia: I-N-D-Y-M-E-D-I-A dot O-R-G.
Bad Cop No Donut
Now we turn to Bad Cop No Donut for a report on a Pennsylvania Sheriff's Deputy who sexually harassed his neighbor.
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That was Bad Cop No Donut
Welcome back to Rust Belt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.
[6:40] Students for a Sensible Drug Policy
The Higher Education Act Aid Elimination Penalty prevents students who have been convicted on drug charges from receiving federal financial aid. On April 17th Students for a Sensible Drug Policy or SSDP released a report on the numbers of students nationwide that are denied financial aid because of this law. We spoke with Kris Krane, the executive director of SSDP about this law.
* ssdp.ogg: 6:05
That was just Kris Krane, the executive director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy, speaking about students who are denied financial aid because of drug convictions. For more information you can go to the website www.ssdp.org
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You're listening to Rust Belt Radio.
[14:00] Darfur and Sudan
Sunday was marked by a series of rallies to call attention to the situation in Darfur, Sudan, and nearly 100,000 people turned out across the United States in support of action. Meanwhile, in the Sudan, the midnight deadline for signing a draft peace agreement was extended 48 hours. Two rebel groups currently refuse to sign.
Heather Sharkey is a professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She spoke to Rustbelt Radio last week about the situation in Darfur and how it fits into the larger picture of the long-running civil war in Sudan.
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According to Heather, the media attention towards Darfur is laudable, but it is also surprising.
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Heather also spoke about the recent history of the Sudanese governmentÂs support of international militant groups, and how this fits into the Darfur situation.
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That was U-Penn professor Heather Sharkey speaking about the situation in Darfur and the Sudan.
[2:00] May Day
We now have a special feature on May Day.
A holiday of the workers of the world as well as a pagan festival, May Day is the name given to several holidays celebrated around the world. May Day as International WorkersÂ Day has its roots in the anarchist and labor movements. On May 1, 1886, facing twelve hour workdays in dangerous conditions, Chicago workers called for a general strike in pursuit of an eight hour workday. Two days later, striking workers met near the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company Plant. Police shot and killed two of these workers. The following day, local anarchists organized a rally at Haymarket Square in ChicagoÂs busy commercial hub. Pamphlets were distributed, calling workers to arms. Police ordered the rally to be dispersed and opened fire on the crowd. Eight anarchists were charged with the murder of a policeman. Many physically wounded at the rally were afraid to even go to hospitals for fear of arrest.
Subsequent May Day Riots happened among unemployed workers in Cleveland in 1894 and later in 1919, in protest of the jailing of Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs.
In the 20th Century, many countries, including the Soviet Union, adopted May Day as an official holiday, referring to it as Labor Day. Anti-communist fever in the US caused the suppression of May Day celebrations.
Labor Day, celebrated in September, is thought of as an attempt by American labor unions to suppress the communist and anarchist elements in labor history, and to develop a more patriotic image. Its adoption as an official holiday in 1882 was met with resistance by many, including the Industrial Workers of the World, who championed May Day for its focus on international class struggle and its anti-imperialist politics. Its dwindling influence within the US can be partly explained by the rise of the Cold War and McCarthyism, but its influence has grown around the world, in countries including China, South Africa, Japan, and Canada.
On the more Pagan side of the holidays, May Day has raucous roots as a spring festival: the pagan celebration of Beltane, a Gaelic holiday whose name in Wicca means "fire in the sky". Traditionally, today is considered the first day of summer in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. Bonfires are lit in celebration.
In Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Sri Lanka and other countries, the Maypole is a staple of May Day celebrations. Traditionally fashioned out of hawthorne or birch, the may pole is a tall wooden pole festooned in ribbons, flowers, and greenery.
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Calendar of events
And now we present the Indymedia calendar of events:
* On May 5th and 6th The American Civil Liberties Union will be hosting a conference in State College PA
* On Saturday May 6th at 10:00AM The Friends Meeting House at 4836 Ellsworth Ave will be hosting a seminar on the "Free Trade Fraud" and why free trade isnÂt really free
* On Sunday May 7th Prometheus Radio will be hosting a Community Media workshop with movies about community radio in Tanzania and Tennesse, a discussion on low power fm and a hands on workshop to make wifi cantennas. It will take place at 7PM at the Thomas merton center at 5125 Penn Ave.
[ Outro music ]
Thanks for tuning in to Rust Belt Radio here on WRCT Pittsburgh, WARC Meadville, WVJW Benwood and WPTS Pittsburgh.
Our hosts this week are Andalusia Knoll, Abie Flaxman and Sara Valenzuela with contributions from Vani Natarajan, Jessica McPherson, Donald Deeley, Jessi Berkelhammer, Abie Flaxman and Andalusia Knoll. This week's show was produced by Donald Deeley. Special thanks to all of our hosts, producers, and contributors.
You can get involved with Rustbelt Radio! To contact us, or to send us your comments, email RADIO at I-N-D-Y-P-G-H dot ORG. All of our shows are available for download or podcast on our website at RADIO dot INDY-P-G-H dot ORG and this show can be heard again Tuesday morning on WRCT at 9 AM after Democracy Now!
Tune in next week at this time for another edition of Rustbelt Radio, the Pittsburgh Independent Media Center's weekly review of news from the grassroots.